CUPE Local 500 > Member Centre > Problems at work?

Problems at Work?

If you are having a problem at work and need to talk to a union representative, you should ask to speak to your union shop steward. Your steward is familiar with your workplace and can help you with any problem or workplace issue.

If you do not know who your Steward is or if your workplace needs a steward, contact the Local 500 office at 204-942-1001 or email:

Grievance information

Depending upon the nature of your problem, your steward may recommend that a grievance be filed on your behalf.

It is important that the grievance is presented factually when filing. As a member who is filing a grievance, you need to ensure that you give as many of the facts as possible to the Steward. Here are the 6 W's to remember when filing a grievance

1. WHO: is involved?The members full name, employer, branch or division, title and job classification. Name and title of supervisors or witness's need to be accurate.

2. WHAT: happened that caused the violation? Disciplinary action? Substitution pay not given? Safety violations? You need the story of what occurred in chronological order

3. WHEN: did the violation occur? Ensure dates and times are included. Include how often and how long?

4. WHERE: did it occur? Give exact location or locations if event occurred in different places. Have pictures or drawings if applicable

5. WHY: is this considered to be a grievance or complaint? Was there a direct violation of an article(s) in the collective agreement? A violation of an Act or Code, an arbitral award, past practice issue?

6. WANT: this relates to adjustments that are required by the union to correct the injustice. Always ask for "full redress" in order to make the member whole, ie., all wages lost, file cleared, vacation returned.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is a violation of the employee's rights on the job. It is the stewards job to determine what right was violated or if the grievance is legitimate, ie., is it a complaint or an official grievance?

1. Most employees' rights are contained in the collective agreement so this is the first place you, as a member or a steward must look to see if there is a grievance. If the grievance is a clear cut violation of the contract, it will be easy to prove and win. If it is an interpretive issue, it can be more difficult. Either one though, constitutes a legitimate grievance. If it is an interpretive issue, previous arbitration cases on similar or same language will help you prepare your argument.

2. Violation of Federal or Provincial Law. Here you may be filing a grievance or dealing directly with the appropriate agency to deal with the issue, or you may do both. It may be a Health and Safety violation or Human Rights violation, both of which deal with a separate agency. Most collective agreements have specified language on this on whether a grievance is filed or not.

3. Violation of past practice in the workplace. This can be the basis for a grievance, particularly in areas where the contract is silent or unclear; where a past practice has been violated by the management, an employee may have a real grievance. But to be considered as a past practice, the circumstances must have been:

a. repeated over an extended period of time;
b. accepted explicitly or implicitly by both workers and management, e.g. by verbal agreement or in writing without either side formally objecting; or
c. while violating the contract, neither side has demanded that this part of the contract be enforced.

4. Complaints must be dealt with. If you think your rights have been violated, see your steward. He/she will do the investigation and let you know whether there has been a violation. If there hasn't, they will clearly explain why.